• Genetic variation;
  • differentiation;
  • chloroplast DNA;
  • isozymes;
  • microsatellites;
  • Quercus.

Abstract: Chloroplast DNA and two categories of nuclear markers - isozymes and microsatellites - were used to examine a very rich natural community of oaks (Quercus spp.) situated in west-central Romania. The community consists of five oak species: Q. robur, Q. petraea, Q. pubescens, and Q. frainetto - that are closely related -, and Q. cerris. A total of five chloroplast haplotypes was identified. Q. cerris was fixed for a single haplotype. The other four species shared the two most common haplotypes. One haplotype was confined to Q. robur and a very rare one was restricted to Q. petraea. Both types of nuclear markers revealed a larger genetic variation for Q. pubescens and Q. petraea than for Q. frainetto and Q. robur, although the differences between species are in most cases not significant. At the nuclear level, Q. cerris could be clearly separated from the other four oak species confirming the taxonomic classification. Regardless of the estimate used, the levels of polymorphism revealed by microsatellites were much higher than those based on isozymes. For the four closely related species the overall genetic differentiation was significant at both categories of nuclear markers. Several loci, such as Acp-C for isozymes, and ssrQpZAG36 and ssrQrZAG96 for microsatellites were very useful to discriminate among species. However, the level of differentiation varied markedly between pairs of species. The genetic affinities among the species may reflect different phylogenetic distances and/or different rates of recurrent gene flow at this site.